Households could save up to €400 a year if the clocks do not go back an hour at the end of the month, a Government TD has suggested.
Fine Gael Cork East TD David Stanton said numerous reports have been carried out in Ireland and internationally about the impact and benefits of ending or delaying clock changes for daylight saving.
He highlighted research from Professor Aoife Foley of Queen’s University Belfast School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering that suggests savings of between €250 and €400 could be achieved by households because of lower demand on the national grid at the peak times of 5pm to 7pm.
He said everything had to be done to reduce energy consumption. “One argument is that it be done by not moving the clocks. Another is that the moving of them be deferred,” Mr Stanton told the Dáil on Wednesday.
The clocks in Ireland were moved forward on March 27th but the US did it two weeks earlier on March 13th, he said. But while Ireland moves the clocks back on October 30th, the US will wait until November 6th, gaining three weeks of summertime, he said.
“We could do more than that. We could move the clocks in the spring in early February and, again, a bit later at this time of the year,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that approximately 12 days from now, winter will have arrived. The clocks will go back one hour and we will have dark evenings. One week from now, sunset will be at 6.20pm and two weeks from now, it will be dark just after 5pm.”
The former minister of state said “many arguments had been made over the years about the benefits for road safety, the benefit to tourism of having brighter evenings and shopping, retail, farming and recreation”.
He added that in the US “it was found that when an adjustment was made, crime levels fell because criminals like darkness. They do not like light.”
Minister of State Frank Feighan said that the argument “would be much stronger if the UK had not voted for Brexit”.
Mr Feighan said the Department of Justice carried out a wide-ranging public survey, “stakeholder engagement and a public-opinion poll”. This followed a vote by the EU parliament in 2019 in favour of discontinuing seasonal clock changes, now the subject of ongoing discussion at European Commission level.
The department’s detailed consultations “demonstrated that abolishing seasonal clock changes could negatively affect the lives of many”, he said.
Respondents were overwhelmingly against any change resulting in two time zones on the island of Ireland, “which would inevitably lead to increased difficulties for business and the general public”.
He said Ireland and a number of other EU states are concerned that the proposal “could reduce synchronicity and result in a patchwork of time zones across the EU, thereby causing unnecessary confusion in the single market”.
Mr Feighan added: “On a positive point, I live in the west of Ireland where we normally have a little more rain than on the east coast but…..we have 10 minutes extra in the evening. Sometimes it is a joy to behold and people living on the east and south coasts miss out on it.”
Mr Stanton urged the Minister for Justice to “go back to Europe and consult colleagues. We live in a different time with respect to energy security, energy supply and energy cost”.
Mr Feighan told him the department will continue to engage at EU level. He said Mr Stanton’s proposal “sounds very reasonable to me. If all the countries in Europe, the UK and the island of Ireland jump together we would have a good chance.”